Nothing Like A Little Amateur Golf @ The Porter Cup
Now that the lines between amateur and professional golf are blurring, it’s more important to take each opportunity to watch golfers perfect their craft on the summer amateur circuit. What’s that, you ask, how are the lines blurring? Pull up a stool and listen well. It’s a story waiting to be told.
The amateur circuit is a cool deal for golfers of a certain talent level and renown. They putter around the country in their autos, moving from Aiken and Sunnehanna to Mount Pleasant, then Rumford and Pinehurst to Decatur, on to Okatie and Portsmouth to Lewiston, and the list of towns grows and grows. Then, an east-coast and west-coast branch of the circuit developed, spreading out the players to their respective laterals of the USA. The story was similar on both sides: players showed up, stayed with a pre-assigned family, visited local attractions when they weren’t practicing or competing and made an impact on a community.
Now, there are more amateur tournaments each week (five principal ones ongoing as I type, including a USGA national championship) that disperse the talent of the amateur game to more locales. In some ways, this is a good thing for towns. As in the day when the principal professional tours visited a Corning and an Endicott, on the way to the bigger events, golf fans in smaller town receive an opportunity to witness the skills of the finest budding stars, before they become for-profit stars. To be sure, each field is sprinkled with mid-ams (either career amateurs or reclaimed professionals), but the true show is the young armada.
What’s happening, though, is the professional tours, eager to make an early connection with tomorrow’s card-carrying members of some tour, are dipping their ladels into the tureen of amateur talent and scooping out the brightest names. Some guys you won’t (or wouldn’t) have seen a lot of this summer (Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Blayne Barber) have turned pro or will turn pro at some point in the next year. They are or would have accepted sponsor’s invitations (they can accept up to 7 a year from the PGA Tour) that would preclude a trip to an amateur-circuit event.
While it’s true that we are discussing only the biggest names (an absence of 3 to 4 each week, divided between the Web.Com and PGA tours), these marquee names are truly missed. When they contend at the Rice Planters, the Sahalee Players, the Azalea, the Monroe and yes, the Porter Cup, the national media pays attention. Focus comes to an event that normally would fly a bit under the radar. Unfortunately, young fans will turn their attention to other players, preserving a sense of regret for the golfers that didn’t show.
That’s why there’s nothing like a little amateur golf at the Porter Cup. If the tournament organizers are fortunate, players of the ilk of Patrick Rodgers, Justin Thomas, Curtis Thompson and Andrew Yun will again make eagles galore on the back nine of a challenging course, will again go to a playoff and will again return each night to their adopted family’s home for a warm meal, a cool breeze on the back porch and a warm laugh and embrace.
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